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Art and Images in Psychiatry
September 2003

Evocation: The Burial of Casagemas

Author Affiliations

James C.HarrisMD

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003;60(9):868. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.60.9.868

ON SUNDAY, February 17, 1901, at approximately 9 PM, Carlos Casagemas committed suicide at L'Hippodrome Café, 128 Boulevard de Clichy, in Paris, France, by shooting himself in the right temple.1 He was 20 years of age, an art student, and a close friend of 19-year-old Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881-1973), with whom he shared an art studio. This episode played a pivotal role in Picasso's choice of subjects during his Blue Period (1901-1904); he told the critic Pierre Daix, "It was thinking of Casagemas that got me started painting in blue."2(p27) Casagemas had obsessively pursued Laure Florentin, known as Germaine, a young woman he wanted to marry. When she rejected him, he decided to return to Spain. At his farewell dinner, he shot to kill her; the bullet missed, but the explosion knocked her to the ground.3 Concluding the woman he loved was dead, he killed himself. A portrait of Casagemas by Picasso illustrated the obituary notice that appeared 9 days after the suicide. In the previous 18 months, they had become close friends. Picasso was struggling to become independent of his family and begin his career as an artist.4 In his Blue Period, Picasso began to resolve his long-standing separation anxiety, dependency on his father, and residual grief for the death of his sister. And he came to terms with the death of Casagemas. After his friend's death, he stopped using his father's name, Ruiz, and became known simply as Picasso.